Saturday, May 18, 2013
By Jessica Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
The dark purple, almost black lilies will come from Sawyer & Co. in Portland, and the cupcake wedding cake will hail from Two Fat Cats Bakery. The black diamond and black gold rings were handmade by Garo Celik in New York City.
The couple will celebrate with friends at a Portland restaurant, and have hired a local limousine service to bring the group to their wedding ceremony.
Business owners are hoping to see a rise in demand for such goods and services as legalized gay marriage arrives in Maine later this week, but the impact may take time to build as people plan their events.
"I don't think the floodgates will open and we'll double our business. But even if it's a small part of our business, we're excited to be part of it," said Dan Kennedy, owner of Harmon's & Barton's, Minott's Flowers and Sawyer & Co. floral shops.
In preparing for their Dec. 29 nuptials at Portland City Hall, Donna Galluzzo, 49, and Lisa Gorney, 45, made arrangements with vendors they knew would be supportive of gay weddings.
"There's definitely a factor of not wanting to go to a vendor that would have any issues. The wedding is kind of like coming out again -- you never know how people will react," Galluzzo said. "People have been as openly happy and gracious as they would be for any wedding. Happiness is contagious."
The two women, who have been a couple for three years, plan to celebrate before the ceremony over dinner with about 20 friends at Vignola Cinque Terra. The group will all be dressed in a color theme of black, white and red.
A limousine from Maine Limousine Service will then take them the few blocks to City Hall, where the doors will be opened at 10 p.m. for people gathering a few hours before Maine's law legalizing gay marriage goes into effect. That will trigger a stream of ceremonies in the early hours of Dec. 29.
"Every day there's something new. We just added the limo. Every day we get more and more excited," Gorney said.
Kennedy expects the business impact of gay marriage to be moderate. "The ceremonies aren't huge, not as abundant with decorations. The focus is on the reception and the celebration," he said.
Kennedy said he's had a number of inquiries about handling flowers for the 29th. He plans to have a heated van near City Hall to deliver flowers to clients before their ceremonies, and may even have a table in City Hall for easier pickup if he can sort out the permitting issues with the city.
Blackstones, which claims to be Portland's oldest gay bar, will be open until 1 a.m. on Dec. 29. So far, no one has called to book the bar for a celebration, but owner Ralph Cusack hopes that people stop by for a toast at some point in the evening.
"It's a little discouraging. After 25 years in business, we've had a lot of couples meet here. We hope that some stop by," Cusack said.
Some restaurants, such as Grace on Chestnut Street, expect to be busy Friday evening but they haven't been specially booked for a gay or lesbian wedding.
"It's hard to know why someone is booking a table. It's a busy time of year already," said Grace owner Anne Verrill.
Business owners need to take a long-term view about the business that gay and lesbian weddings will bring to the state, especially as people plan destination events in the peak summer season, said Sid Tripp, president and chief executive of Portland advertising agency Proactive Resources, which created www.gayweddingsinMaine.com, an online gay wedding directory.
The website, which formally launched Dec. 17, already has gotten 135,000 visitors. The site has 300 vendors listing their services, and Tripp expects to add features such as listings for estate planning and legal services, as well as free engagement listings.
"Maine has no idea how big of a business gay weddings will be. We've gotten inquiries from all over the world," Tripp said.
Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: